Women On Banknotes

Normally I steer clear of gender specific topics, having dipped my toe into feminist issues on only a couple of occasions previously.  However, whilst watching the Cybher tweets scroll past at the weekend a topic caught my eye coming from the Social Women & Business session; women on British banknotes.

All the women that I believe to be inspirational to me are women that I know in real life and it scares me to think that there is a generation of young people that believe the 'women of our time' are identified by what is reported in the media or seen on the ever popular reality-style television programmes.

When Winston Churchill replaces social reformer Elizabeth Fry as the face of the £5 note there will be no women (other than the Queen) featuring on English banknotes.  Now, you may argue that Queen Elizabeth II appears on all the notes but, even though she has been an inspirational woman in her own right, she would have appeared on the banknotes regardless because of who she is and not what she has achieved.

The campaign to have more women on British banknotes has been launched by The Women's Room but there's loads of information on Eva's blog.  In a modern world, where we fight for equality on a daily basis, it seems only right that this equality is extended to something that we would use every day.  Subliminal reminders are sometimes more effective than the low-concentration viral campaigns appearing in our social media timelines.

There are many obvious suggestions of female banknote stars as we are all used to hearing the names of suffragettes such as Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davidson.  A major player such as Amy Jonshon would also be an instantly recongisable choice too.  I love Sian's suggestion of Mary Quant which immediately made me think of women such as Anita Roddick (founder of The Body Shop) and Sue Ryder (volunteer during WW2).  Also, with a local-to-me theme, Barbara Castle (politician) is a woman that achieved greatness in a predominantly man's world and Joyce Grenfell is a name from the world of entertainment that I have grown up with and who has inspired much of my observational writing.

But the woman that I would wholeheartedly suggest for our banknotes is Marie Stopes.  As I'm sure you know, Marie Stopes was a women's rights campaigner and was a founder of the first birth control clinic in Britian.  She was writing about equality in marriage at the beginning of the 20th Century and giving practical advice about sexual relationships.  She also had strong views on abortion, stating that birth control should be used to help control family size.  An amazing forward-thinker using science as the basis for her beliefs.

marie stopes
Image Credit |  Marie Stopes International 

I want you to tell me who your inspirational woman is.  Let me know in the comments or, if you have a blog, write about it and get more people thinking about it!

Also, sign the petition and then tweet your thoughts (or your blog post) using the hashtag #banknotes to @TheWomensRoomUK 

To keep this going I am going to tag a few friends - they are the ladies of The High Tea Cast, Sophie from Super Amazing Mum, Lynn from Salt and Caramel and Ruth from Lemonade Life.